Paramaribo, Suriname Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Paramaribo, Suriname

Paramaribo, Suriname 06/12/17

International Academy of Suriname (IAS)

School Website

http://www.iasuriname.org


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

high school - one year 2016/2017

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3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Government

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4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

Yes - Suriname International School, Christian Liberty Academy, AlphaMax Academy. We chose Suriname International School for one kid and IAS for the other. We ultimately put one child in boarding school before coming to Suriname.

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?

Yes.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

The school is well meaning and had some growing pains of their own at the beginning of this school year, but the integration of our student into the school was awful. They are unequipped to deal with any student who is outside the box.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

All communication is via email. The communication is iffy though. We just finished the 2016/2017 school year and their webpage still has the 2015/2016 calendar. That gives you an idea of how well they pay attention to details.

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2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

No real uniform, but there is a dress code. Polo shirts sans logos. Pants that are not too tight, shorts/skirts that are not too short/tight.

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Academics & Resources:

1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?

None. No.

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2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?

No, but there are some after-school activities.

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3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

Yes, but small. Not sure how up to date the collection is though. Students can borrow books.

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4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?

None.

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5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

There is a computer lab, but it is very small. The wi-fi is inconsistent.

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6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

There is a gym at the school, but no pool. There is a field at the school, but no tennis courts. PE is mandatory up through 9th grade.

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7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

10th grade was the largest class with 16 students. The senior class graduated seven students.

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8. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?

IB = no. This year AP classes were not an option but next year they are planning on offering 3 AP classes.

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9. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?

I can't speak for other students. My student was not challenged at all. IAS was our student's 7th school. She came in to 10th grade three credits shy of junior year based on IAS's graduation requirements. Being a small school, they were not equipped to deal with her. She had already taken most of the Sophomore courses and the director suggested she just repeat the courses so that she'd be with the rest of the class for junior year. This is a religious school. We didn't have a problem with that until our student came home telling us what was taught in school - "the Earth is only 5000 years old", "Evolution is a lie", "If you have a tattoo, you're going to Hell", things like that.

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10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

Little, if any, homework. I can't speak for the other grades.

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11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

None at the high school level.

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12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Yes.

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13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

None. If your student is above a mediocre student, they will wither at IAS.

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14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

None. That is not just IAS. There are no services for learning disabled students in Suriname.

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15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

None. Physically disabled students would only be able to access half the school. The high school classes are all on the second floor. No elevator.

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16. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

None. They put students in lower grades so they can learn English.

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17. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?

There are few after-school activities for high schoolers. Elementary aged students have a couple more options. There are high school targeted activities like Galentines, Lock-in, tournaments - soccer, dodge ball, and volleyball but these are annual events.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

Yes.

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2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.

No experience with this issue.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?

F for us. Our student will be attending boarding school back in the US in the Fall. One family here with a student in the 3rd grade loves the school though.

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2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

If your student is average and religious, this could be a good school. If your student has any special learning issues - either gifted or learning disabled, this is not the school for you.

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Paramaribo, Suriname 03/27/11

Suriname International School

School Website

http://www.suriname-internationalschool.com


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

Kindergarten, First Grade

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2010-2011 school year

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Government/Diplomatic

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?

A: There has been no problem with transparency on admissions and placement.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

B: This probably needs work.The school has been really focused on getting up and running, and needs a program for bringing in new students and families.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A to F with comments:

I have had a fantastic experience with the school.It is brand new, 2010-2011 is its first school year, and it is exciting to be a part of starting up a new school.

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2. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

The kindergarten is a Pre-K/K mix and Grade 1 is 1st/2nd mixed. The class size is small, the teachers are

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3. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:

A: The school is predominately expats right now, but there is hope that more local kids will join in as the school becomes more rooted.

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4. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

A: Good.Since it's a small school, I see my kids teachers every day when I drop them off, and have had three formal parent-teacher meetings.American teachers affiliated with the Calvert program also review the children's work, for example I get reports also from an American teacher in Maryland who works closely with the kindergarten teacher in Paramaribo.I like this increased feedback on the kids' academic performance, it puts their academic progress in the context of the US system for me.

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5. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

The school does not currently have a gifted program.It uses the B: Calvert curriculum, which is challenging and considered the best American home school curricula.The curriculum is accredited in the US.

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6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

C: There are after school guitar lessons at the school.Other after school activities are being developed, based on the kids' interest and availability of local teachers/experts.My kids have swimming, horseback riding, African drums lessons, music appreciation class, piano lessons, not out of the school but independently organized based on pooled information of parents.In Suriname, it's a challenge to find these kinds of things, and once we've found an activity, everyone lets everyone else know it's out there.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

A: The Calvert curriculum is great, an accepted high standard in the U.S.

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

A: From from first grade on, the students have homework.The goal is to stick to the Calvert curriculum so teachers assign homework as needed during the year to keep pace with the Calvert plan.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

B: OK

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10. Teacher-student communication:

A: Great

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11. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?

Not at the kindergarten and first grade levels, where I see things.The flexibility of the school and of the Calvert curriculum would be a help with any of these kinds of problems.

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12. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

No.There are special needs kids, both English as a Second Language and issues such as dyslexia.These are addressed by the teachers and parents one on one.

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13. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:

N/A

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14. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:

Not an issue so far at this school.

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15. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

Not yet.They are trying to expand these kinds of offerings, but it's the first year.

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16. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:

This is a small, new school. Parents should not expect to be presented with a broad range of options.

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17. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

No.The PTA is starting to arrange field trips and activites, but the cost is kept to a minimum.

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18. What activities do you feel are missing?

We have filled in with outside music and sports classes. I'm not sure how much we need more after-school activities.

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19. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

No. The guitar classes were for older kids.

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20. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

Yes. It is a very tailored and personal approach, because of the small student body and excellent student-teacher ratio.

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21. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

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Academics & Resources:

1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?

B: So far, we have used the PTA as the forum for raising problems to a higher level when they aren't resolved at the parent-teacher level.This has worked so far.Regarding college applications the school currently goes to Grade 8, so this is not a question yet.

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2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

A: The library has 3,000 books, which rotate in and out of its small library room at the school.The library itself holds about a quarter of this.

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3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

A: There is a computer lab, it's just getting up and running.

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

B: Most PE classes take place across the street, the school has the use of a large indoor stadium.Smaller children learn basic skills and teamwork.Older kids have basketball, soccer.

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5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

A: About 1-4.It's a small school.

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6. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?

NA: Not yet, we don't have high school.

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7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

Yes

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8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

C: Limited.Art is incorporated into the curriculum.There was a Christmas play/musical.

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9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Yes.Some are native English, some are native Dutch speakers, one is native Spanish.They all speak English.

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10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

No.The Calvert curriculum does provide for a wide range of additional supplemental activities and subjects, some of which could be used as gifted and talented if needed. www.calvertschool.org

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11. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?

No, see above.Most extracurricular activities in Suriname are arranged by the parents, not the schools.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

The students socialize a lot together after school and on weekends, so do many parents.(This is a small country.)What I like about this school is that all of the kids - around 40 total at the school - know each other and interact.My small kids have good and consistent interaction with the upper grades, who don't shun them because they're younger.

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2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.

No. The expat kids are in the large majority.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

The curriculum is very good, and a very dedicated and motivated group of expat parents founded it and sustain it.It's a community effort, and you really feel like part of a family at this school.I have not had that expat experience before, and it is a great way to live.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Growth over the next five years to become an established, stable school.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes. We really like the community of parents and teachers. It has been the warmest entry into local society we have ever experienced. We learn more about Suriname from the school than from the newspapers.

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